Picture this: lavish dresses, glamorous makeup and hair-dos, and A-list celebrities walking star-studded red carpets, and you enviously watching this scene unfold from your (cozy) couch. In a city like New York which is well-known for its robust film industry, movie screenings and premieres are commonplace and are hosted frequently. If you’ve ever wondered how to attend movie screenings in NYC and beyond, you might be surprised to learn there are several ways to do so (outside of global fame).
Basically, premieres or screenings are a way to promote an upcoming film before it is released to the mainstream masses. That means there are usually canapes and cocktails for members of the press, cast and crew, their friends and family, and celebrities or influencers. While many of these events are often exclusive and invite-only, there are select pathways where film buffs can participate and attend them live, or at the very least be able to watch the film before its official release. Here are some options for you to bookmark right away.
1. Volunteer at Film Festivals
If your love for film and media expands to the inner workings of the industry, then consider volunteering at film festivals and obtaining first-hand experience. This will not only grant you exclusive access to movie screenings and premieres, but you will also likely be invited to other industry events where you can network with filmmakers and entertainment professionals. Unlike some of the other options on this list that sometimes require paying for advanced tickets, volunteering is a way to explore your passion for free.
2. Check your credit card rewards
Everyone has a credit card, but did you know that your credit card has the ability to do more than just cover your Uber eats order or retail therapy purchases? There are multiple credit cards on the market, so conduct your independent research before applying for one. Some offer the option to access presale tickets to in-demand events, like concerts, theater productions, trendy restaurants, and virtual and special events like premieres and screenings in select cities. Usually, card holders get information about the most popular event listings sent directly to their inboxes and can sign up during a limited time frame.
Other credit card programs offer the option to experience Sundance Film Festival (the largest film festival in the United States). This year’s festivities are in-person the first week and virtual for the second week. Card holders can access private screenings of select films, get insider scoop to movie panels, and experience other behind the scene perks. Better yet, if you are really looking forward to “bumping” into a celebrity in person, some credit card benefits include VIP packages for some events including celebrity meet-and-greets and VIP access or priority entry to select events. Next time you sign up for a credit card, make sure you brush up on the entertainment benefits before submitting your application.
3. VIP Concierge
If you are the type of person that’s always on the go and not constrained to one city, you need to sign up for VIP Concierge STAT. You will receive an email outlining exclusive events (like fashion week and galas) in different parts of the world and their associated cost to attend. If you decide to enroll in their membership program, you can get even more exclusive access to events like movie premieres, award shows, and inaugural balls ranging from Hollywood to London. Though the membership cost is steep, it unlocks access to high-end, ultra-exclusive events worldwide. Or, just keep an eye on your email for upcoming events that are tailored to your interests, aka movie screenings and premieres.
If you don’t have a couple thousand dollars to spend for exclusive access, then you’re better off downloading the Gofobo app, a tool used by many movie studios to distribute advanced passes and promotional screenings. First, you need to sign up for Gofobo, which is a quick and easy process, and then enroll in the newsletters and email updates which list information about upcoming movie releases and timings. Usually tickets are on a first come first serve basis, so reserve them as soon as you can. Many screenings allow for two free passes, so grab your Hinge date, or a friend (and the popcorn, of course). Just remember to arrive at least 30 to 60 minutes before a movie starts because movie screenings fill up fast and it pays to be early to definitely have a seat.
5. Advance Screenings
If you’re simply passing through New York (or another city for that matter), be sure to check out Advance Screenings to see what’s happening that day. Simply search by movie, city, zip code or outlet (i.e. Netflix). Once you’ve made your selection, you will be directed to a link where you can “redeem” your code (or in other words, sign up for the screening directly at the studio’s screenings site), and find out the screening’s location. This site also shares information on radio and newspaper contests giving out advance screening tickets, so if Lady Luck is on your side, you may be able to score some free giveaways. Most of these options are first come first serve service, so act fast.
6. Listen to your local Radio Station for Giveaways
I know, I know, who listens to the radio these days? Especially in a city like New York which is home to subway commuters instead of drivers, it might seem odd to suggest this option. Nevertheless, local radio stations like New York’s Power 105.1, host contests and promotions that sometimes include advance movie screening tickets. Keep your eyes, and ears, glued to snag these perks.
If all else fails, you can always show up early to a screening in the hopes you’ll get in, but in the city known as the “concrete jungle”, we recommend always having a plan A.